We dream of darker skies

Construction workers move the last of the solar lights into place on a 
foggy June day, 2014. Teresa Shumaker photos.

By Teresa Shumaker

Last July we unveiled our new solar amber lights on Turtle Drive, purchased with a $30,000 grant from Green Mountain Energy and their customers. Sea Tutle, Inc. was the first on the island to have solar street lamps and use amber color, turtle-friendly lights and we couldn't have done it without Green Mountain and their Sun Club customers!

Why are these new lights so important? Reptiles cannot see amber or red light wavelengths as well as other wavelengths. Because of that, it does not disturb the sea turtles when they are trying to orient themselves on the beach after dark. Jeff George, STI's Executive Director, said he sees a not-too-distant future, when the sea turtles recover their numbers enough that their will be too many nests to move into our corral. When that happens, we will need turtle-friendly lights across the island, so the hatchlings will not become confused when they try to make their way to the ocean at night.

We may have been the first to change our lights to amber, but we definitely hope others join us soon. And by the time we see such a recovery in the sea turtle numbers that Jeff envisions, most of the night lights on the island have that amber glow.